The iSeries Blog

Oct 2 2008   9:42AM GMT

New RPG users: an oxymoron?

Mark Fontecchio Mark Fontecchio Profile: Mark Fontecchio

Like “jumbo shrimp” and “small fortune,” one would probably think that “new RPG users” is an oxymoron. And if we expand that out more — “new RPG users on the System i” — well, that makes it seem more like one.

But that may not be the case. The folks at iDevelop reveal that there are actually plenty of people out there coming to the System i new from other platforms — Unix, Windows, Linux. Now, coming to System i usually means you have to get to know RPG, as it’s the main language for many i applications. But iDevelop reports that these newcomers are coming to the language with more of an eagerness to learn, rather than a gritting of the teeth:

Assuming they’re introduced to the modern version fo the language (i.e., /Free format logic, modular design with function calls, etc.) nearly all those we’ve talked to are impressed by the power and simplicity of RPG for business-oriented logic compared to whatever languages they have worked with. At least a couple of RPG’s most publicly vocal fans came to the language after experiencing other languages and environments.

The point of the post was to generate some discussion about how to attract people to the i platform as they’re coming new to it. Commenters added on, saying that anything that can run on the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) stack within i is attracting the new users, as well as some other interesting things.

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  • Charles
    There is reason for optimism on the horizon. Hopefully, these new people to the language can help drag the others holding on to obsolete techniques into the present, even if there ends up being some kicking and screaming. That is what the language needs to survive in the future.
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  • Dan
    I am elated to see this post! I am the director of IT at a custom RPG shop. We switched over to "FREE" and SQL about a year and a half ago. With the power of these modern tools, we can develop applications that are significantly more sophisticated and in much less time than with standard RPG (LE). Our Web architecture includes the Web scripts calling Stored Procedures on the AS400 (which of course are written in FREE and SQL). We are betting that with this development architecture, almost any developer will be able to pick it up and work on it. This reduces the fear we have of a diminishing pool of talent in RPG, and gives us comfort that we are not working in a "dead" language. In the meantime, we've come full swing from the old days of ---------------------------------------------------- "Enter Code:______" (if you don't know it, you don't move on.) Oh, and by the way, we wanted a numeric value and you typed a non-numeric value, so a small blinking number will appear on the bottom left of your screen which will completely block your keyboard until you press the "Error Reset" key, which of course everybody understands and it's only common sense that you should press the key to mean "Error Reset" (assuming that is how your keyboard mapping has been set up. Now -------------------------------------------------------- Search:________________________ (type anything you can think of and we'll find it a la Google.) Thanks to the power of dynamic string manipulation with varchars in FREE, which can be used to build dynamic SQL statements which join many different files (tables), and can search all of them at once, in just a day of programming you can build whole new search functions. As you can see, I can barely restrain myself. I would be surprised if young talent, trained in java and .NET wouldn't enjoy developing in FREE with SQL and I expect they would pick it up very quickly. (p.s. It has come to my attention that at some point in V5R3 and backwards, you could not use SQL in FREE. For any of you that are trapped in that environment, I strongly suggest upgrading to at least V5R4, and then you can be truly "free". )
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